Me and my (MI) band

This is a special day in my relationship with my MI Band. For 41 days in a row I have able to meet my daily goal of walking minimum 8000 steps. That apparently is better than 67 percent of the users who are sharing their results. Not too bad, I think.

Weekends are difficult though. I don’t get the automatic 4000 steps from the daily walks between home, train station and my workplace, and with freezing temperature (RealFeel – 13°) I don’t see myself walk another 4-5000 steps today. And so my steak is coming to an end. I will also  go on vacation soon, and I don’t want that to become an exercise in, well, exercising.

Having said that, I look forward to starting over again, because this walking thing is good. Not just the exercise itself, but the evening walks that are sometimes required to reach the 8000 or even the Google-Fit stretch goal of 10,000 steps are a great way to clear the head after a long day and relax.

Looking back at my previous post, what have I learnt?

  • First of all, I actually do get a fair amount of exercise everyday that I go to work
  • knowing the distance of certain standard walk is great too, such as he distance to the train station, the super market and the kindergarten
  • You get used to wearing a wristband on your right hand all day, every day, However, the fact that it doesn’t show the time immediately when you look at it makes it a showstopper for my as daily driver watch. the heart rate sensor still doesn’t work well. Therefore, However, the MI Band 2 still still won’t replace my old wrist watch. I am however, warming to the idea of getting a proper smart watch.

Finally, where I previously picked the work-from-home option often to avoid a lengthy commute (most of my stakeholders and daily co-workers are at other locations in any case, so where I work from doesn’t make a big difference), I am now more likely to make the trip.

Updates

  • For a while I have been toying with the idea of getting a tablet (I am generally not an early adapter : ), but being an Android person that is always a disappointing market to shop in. The high-end stuff is still 2 years old running, and there really is no middle tier, which would be the interesting point for someone who is mostly looking for an e-book reader. As a test I wrote part of this post on my daughter’s  Lenovo Tablet 10″, and while that does work, I see that I can write just as well on my OP3 phone with it’s  5.5″ screen. And the sorry state of Android tablets need no further explanation to me: As the phones get bigger, they become less relevant. With 6″ phones becoming increasingly prevalent (and handle-able, thanks to shrinking bezels), that tendency can only continue.
  • Speaking of tables being replaced by phones: The year’s big electronics shows like CES and MWC have come and gone, with none of the excitement I remember from 3-5  years ago. And the Samsung Galaxy S9 has come out and is unexpectedly getting favorable reviews with a it of a so-what tone, with the improvements being as expected. Personally I am most interested in hearing about the next generation of Nokia phones that is, HMD phones), since they promise high-end builds combined with vanilly Android One.
  • Also speaking of bigger pones impact:  I scrapped an laptop this weekend (A 2009ish Dell latidue E4200), which, while still working, was not providing any value compared to my phone or the other house laptop (a 2014 model). I kind of hoped to be able to reuse the SSD in my desktop PC to test Windows 10 1803 (since my experience with the 1709 was bumpy), but since the connectors were non-standard, that was not to be)
  • I am reading Robert Heinlein’s “The Moon is Harsh Mistress“. Heinlein is one of those authors I have long wanted to read more of, ever since ‘Starship Troopers’ which has long been a favorite of mine. Great book so far and I look forward to be fully qualified to say that “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch” (while the term may not have originated with Heinlein, his use s the one that counts for me). It is amazing how one can read a science fiction book from 1966, i.e., written three years before the first moon landing, doesn’t feel old-fashioned in any way, whereas many never stories, especially if technology driving the story, can wear out surprisingly fast.
  • I am really looking forward to finally watch The Last Jedi. I have been well able to dodge spoilers, but it is now so long after the movie premier that it’s story seems to be considered general knowledge, not requiring a spoiler alert. Almost there – almost there…

A fitting band?

Last year (2017) my employer launched a new employee benefit initiative, focusing on employee health. There has been inspirational talks, fitness trainers visiting and micro training stations have been set up too. Very nice, and while there was potential for tinfoilhattery, it is hard to deny that being healthy is a good thing in itself – I don’t mind that the company benefits from healthy employees being productive employees too 1. They also offered a fitness band to everybody, gave rise to a bit more tinfoilhattery, which was speculative and unfair, but at least should raise awareness that wearable devices allows collection of a new degree of private information – caveat emptor). The bands were all MI Band 2 from Xiaomi, and soon lots of colleagues were wearing them around the office. I put mine in my cabinet-of-stuff and mostly forgot about it.

I haven’t thought much about wearable tech in general. I briefly considered getting a smartwatch back when the first android watches came out in 2014, but found them to be more gadgets for early adapters and just an additional device to keep track of instead of a real benefit. 3 years later the concept has matured and battery life times improved. Also, I meet collegaues and friends who are happy with their wearables and news coverage confirmed that it is time to reconsider. Then what could be easier than picking that box out of the cabinet-o-stuff for a first run?

Getting started with the MI Band 2 was simple enough, because even though I could not read the all Chinese instructions, I can recognize a QR code and scan it with my smart phone. From there it was all a matter of following instructions on screen. It turned out I already had a Xiaomi account from the time I toyed with MIUI, so I didn’t have to create that either (but had to recover the long lost password, a process that worked just like that sort of thing usually does).

If anything my expectations weren’t high, although the device is actually getting good reviews like this one from techradar.com. My own impression so far is mixed.

Starting with the good: I like the step counter is great. Knowing that on a regular work day I easily walk 7 kilometers is great and having set a simple daily minimum target has several times sent me out on a late evening walk.

On the bad side: the pulse measurement seems useless, for example, during a hard workout it still measured a pulse below my rest pulse, so I cannot us the MI Band 2 for that purpose. Then again, given the cost of the device, what is reasonable to expect?

Likewise, since the basic function (counting steps) is well fulfilled on a cheap device, I don’t want to call anything “the ugly“, but I actually do have problems making the device work as a wrist watch. It can tell the time, but only if tap the device with a finger on my other hand, which means that I cannot check the time with a quick, discrete look (there is a setting to turn on the display when the surface is held up, but it doesn’t work reliably). Alse, the shape of the band is such that it gets stuck in shirt and jacket cuffs, making it generally impractical.

So I like the step counter, but the MI Band 2 cannot replace my old wristwath. I like the step counter enough to keep the band on my right wrist for now, but have also started looking for a replacement.

The Week

I am back at work after the holidays and making ends meet.

  • I am waiting for the Spectre and Meltdown patches to hit my PC. We shall see how bad the day-to-day usage performance hit to my i5-2500K rig will be, but since the primary CPU heave work I do is image processing I am not overly concerned. Time will tell.
  • This week’s music for commuting, working and (new 🙂 evening walks were supplied by the Enigma project. Some albums are great to re-visit, even if age is showing, and some I missed before and are great to dive into.
  • Am still watching plenty of My Little Pony, but I sense the saturation point approaching.

Looking back, looking forward

It is the time of the year for retrospective posts about the past year. What went well, what went worse; what was best, what was worse.

As far as this blogs goes, it is  interesting to read my “happy new year” post again. Things turned out quite different and all in all it has been zigzagging a bit, trying to find itself with regards to form and content (language included), while I have also spent time building two other web sites – havenefterfyraften.dk about my own gardening interests and garnspejderen.dk as part of a sidehustle my wife has started. I have also spent time developing sidehustle ideas of my own, but so far nothing worth mentioning. On top of the has come some family matters that required attention as well as the job,  so all in all, this blog just didn’t get first priority this year. I am sure it is looking forward to 2018.

Some interesting things I haven’t written about, but may cover in the new year:

  • I have started a stream on instagram – it is great to have somewhere to show my pictures, to have someone to share with and someone to get inspired by.
  • With the  photo work came more serious work with photo-editing software, primarily Adobe’s Lightroom. It has been exciting to go in-depth with that application and slowly get to know the rest of Adobe’s suit of creative applications. So far I am just scratching the surface and learning how do to Adobe, which takes a bit of effort for someone who has spent most of his time in Microsoft-land.
  • Some less serious work has gone into Raspberry Pis, which are both excellent media centers when running Kodi on LibreElec and, I believe, a good enough platform to cover the essential needs of a PC user.
  • I just unpacked a fitness band I got a few months back. I am still not sure what to think of it, but now I break it in before the new year starts, and then time will tell if it lasts for a week, a month, a year or just becomes a permanent thing, replacing my 15 year old titanium Certina watch.

Also my gaming stats have improved over last year, with at least 45 hours spent on Steam – I have actually played and completed South Park – The Stick of Truth which was indeed an excellent implementation of an interactive South Park universe and both inspiring and provoking, as well as trying really hard to offend everybody somehow. I also played Pillars of Eternity a bit, but got distracted somehow.

Something new was a return to reading books – that must be an indicator that my kids have grown. I have enjoyed Jack Cambell (John Hemry) and John Scalzi a lot. (that was probably one thing that distracted my gaming – not a bad thing if you ask me).

Also, I may have become a Brony. It all started with me, as a sensible parent watching TV with my little girls, and all of a sudden I want to choose which My Little Pony episode to watch next and watching new  episodes in the evenings. Excellent show.

The featured image

The featured image on this article is a sunset shot on Dec 22 using my mobile phone camera. I am usually underwhelmed by that camera (indeed a week point of the OnePlus 3), but from time to time I try to give it a chance at this time it was worth it. The editing was done in Lightroom CC.

Sunset – Dec 22, 2017

The week

Apart from all the holiday stuff I have:

  • Worked on getting my blogs back in shape.
  • Watched pony, including some episodes that in my mind seem much better suited for adult viewers than little girls – like a pony version of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”.
  • Started scanning my father’s collection of photographic slides – several thousand pictures coming, many of which are totally irrelevant, some of which are priceless memories.

Update

Det har nogle være interessante uger i tech-land. Hvis man interesserer sig for IT-sikkerhed, så  har både KRACK (en sårbarhed i WiFi kryptering) og Reaper (et up-and-coming botnet), kunnet bringe én i stemning til Halloween. “Fall Creators Update” – efterårsopdateringen til Windows 10 – er landet, med ‘File on Demand’ for OneDrive som er en god feature at få reintroduceret hvis man  har mange filer og en laptop, med ‘Nightlight’ og en række nye apps og sikkerhedsfeatures. Meget fint.

Nyt er også en desktopversion af Adobes mobile/webfotoredigerings- og -administrationsprogram “Lightroom CC“. Jeg har i flere år brugt det oprindelige Lightroom (nu kaldet ‘Lightroom CC Classic‘) med stor tilfredshed, mens jeg ikke har været overbevist om nytten af den mobile udgave, som i sig selv ikke skilder sig ud fra mængden af mobile apps til fotoredigering, f.eks. Snapseed. Måske det bare skyldes at jeg  ikke har haft et ordentligt mobilkamera i årevis (jeg savner min HTC One, men jeg nok også bare blevet kræsen og overkritisk siden vi gik spejlrefleksvejen). Men nu begynder jeg at fornemme det smarte når ikke bare fotos , men også redigeringer af billeder synkroniseres imellem enheder, således at man kan starte sin billedredigering mens man stadig kun har mobiltelefon til rådighed og så gøre det færdigt på tablet eller PC og så sende det færdige produkt tilbage til mobil hvorfra man f.eks. kan poste til Instagram eller dele til andre tjenester. Det er godt med et simplificeret workflow i forhold til Lightroom Classic og de mobile apps. Til gengæld koster det månedbetaling igennem én af Adobes fotografpakker.

Jeg har også haft et par sjove oplevelser med min gamle laptop – en Dell XPS Studio 16 fra 2009. Den har haft en udmærket karriere, men uden mulighed for opgradering til SSD og  med en general udfordring med varme og støj, og et dødt batteri har den flere gange været på vej til genbrugspladsen.  Efter sidste opdatering var jeg klar til endelig at gøre det forbi , men heldigvis huskede jeg at spørge en bekendt hvem der kunne have glæde at sådan en maskine. Heldigvis var der én. Undervejs til at forberede maskinen til den nye ejer lærte jeg flere ting:

  1. Det kan fint lade sig gøre at fjerne en Linux partition der har delt harddisk med Windows, om end det kan være bøvlet at inddele harddisken bagefter fordi Windows’ egen recovery partition som placeres umiddelbart efter, hvorefter det muligvis ikke kan lade sigen
  2. ‘Reset PC funktionen’ fungerer ikke altid, og det kan gå meget galt hvis den fejler (hvad den gjorde får mig). Til gengæld varer den så længe. at man på vej mod sluttilstanden overvejer om ikke man bare skulle have lavet en frisk installation i stedet.
  3. Windows 10 kan geninstalleres fra et generisk medie hentet fra Microsoft (her), også vil den oprindelige aktivering stadig være OK (hvilket fortæller at aktivering er i forhold til hardware profil, ikke aktiveringskoden på den Windows man installerer)
  4. Installation/Licens er ikke bundet til en bestemt sprogversion (godt i tråd med at man kan skifte sprog dynamisk (dog med enkelte inkonsistenser når man sammenligner en dansk installation med en engelsk der har sproget ændret
  5. Der var et mægtigt udvalg af gode tilbud på Steams Hallloween udsalg, men med den backlog jeg allerede har  fik jeg først og fremmest ærgrelse ud af at kigge tilbudene igennem – så mange spil jeg kunne have købt billigere, hvis jeg da nogensinde ville spille dem. Jeg købte lidt ekstra DLC til Pillars of Eternity og så Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines’ – som jeg nød at spille igennem for 10-12 år siden – må se om jeg får prioriteret det højt nok fremover, men nu er det i hvert fald i samlingen.

Så en god historie synes mig – både fordi at min gamle laptop fik nyt liv, og fordi Windows 10 var let og effektiv at arbejde med – i hele meget taget fornuftig at have med at gøre.

Ugens Foto

Et strandfoto fra efterårsferieturen, taget på Stenbjerg Strand. Det er én af mine første lejligheder til at arbejde med en vidvinkellinse på kameraet. Efter at have læst forskellige blogs om vidvinkel fotografering, var jeg opmærksom på hvor vigtig forgrunden er for et landskabsbillede, og så var det ellers ned og ligge på maven i sandet for at få det rette skud.

Ugen der gik

  • Jeg blev færdig med at læse ‘The Last Colony’ – det har været en stor fornøjelse at læse de første tre bøger i serien af John Scalzi.
  • Næste læsning bliver en stribe ‘Win at Work’ bøger som jeg fandt på Humble Bundle til en god pris – altid værd at kigge efter.

 

 

 

Happy New Year

Hello Dear Reader, thanks for stopping by and all wishes for a Happy New Year to you.

The turning of the year is a time with plenty of traditions. There are fireworks, Xmas and everything with family… Then web media is filled with articles listing the Best of Year X, The Worst of Year X and what to look forward to in year X+1. And there is the personal opportunity to check a few more things on the To-Do List and do some general cleanup in order to start the new year with a clean slate.

My checklist was topped by new lamps for the living room and closing a hole in an old, unused chimney (and thanks to the relative who let me help him do it). The new years cleanup focused on vacuum packing children’s clothes, sorting books and throwing away two big boxes full of all the cases for my CD collection, which felt surprisingly good. And then there was was the question about what to do with this blog.

2016 has not been a productive year for this blog and I keep having a nagging feeling because of that. When I come across blogs on the net I usually check if they are alive with recent and regular posting, or if they are dead without activity, and this blog has held on to dear life, but I go this a nagging feeling for a long  time now, with me not being satisfied with the blog not meeting my own ambitions. At the same time, there are some perfectly good reason why I don’t get much Done on the blog:

  • First I got this annoying kind of perfectionism, where I tend to delay working on a task until I sufficient time in order to produce the perfect output. Because of this, many posts never make it out of my head, or at most they became bullet outline list in perpetual draft documents.
  • Second there is the matter of time, which I am sure most people with little children recognize: My (blog) productivity dropped when our second daughter was born, so regardless how great an idea for a post I got in my head, when I wake up 5:30 in the morning, then before I have picked up the kids after work, cooked dinner, read a story and served dinner and put everyone to bed, cleaned the kitchen and done the rest of today’s Work, I don’t get a lot writing done (similarly my gamer career is effectively on hold, with my 2016 PC gaming of the year being less than 24 hours according to Steam).

There just are other things that must be done first.

Still, I really like writing and even though it was only my second season keeping log of the garden and greenhouse, I already found it useful to go back and check what was done last year.

So to get some writing done I could start by going through my drafts posts:

  • Finish all posts that are work-in-progress, like my Smartphone MuSCoW series.
  • Add those that are missing, like the one about Disney Princesses as role models (which only has to be translated to English and have a lot of hyperlinks added)
  • Delete those that aren’t interesting anyway or just not relevant any longer relevant, like the one about Microsoft’s 26.7 Billion used acquisition of LinkedIn, which filled the news for almost a week in June until everyone with an opinion had shared it (except myself, obviously, but noting that the market for mature, well-grown social networks is small, and even smaller if you want them to be relevant for your CRM business, doesn’t need an entire post). Likewise, I also missed the opportunity to comment on Microsoft joining the Linux foundation, but Marc Andreesen covered the essentials already in 1995, which is many versions of Windows and Web Browsers ago (and Windows outlasted Netscape), but as an Office 365 user I can only agree that the OS and desktop software has been commoditized.
  • Keep the journal posts going for 2017.

Then, thinking back to the ambition of this site – creating some sensible content for the web when time permits, I might still get something written. Or perhaps improve my gamer stats.

Happy new year!